North Carolina has 301 miles of splendid coastline, where the state’s famous beaches kiss the Atlantic Ocean. Many of the homes along our coast feature decks and porches where vacationers can enjoy the moist, salty air. Unfortunately, these beach conditions cause corrosion and can turn these decks into a dangerous time bomb in a short amount of time. Many decks are 12 to 15 feet off the ground, making a fall from such a height potentially fatal. Several deck collapses have occurred when a group of people gathered for a group picture, concentrating their entire weight on one section of the deck.
Over the last decade, over 4,600 emergency room visits were brought about by the deck collapses. In the United States, it is estimated that there are 40 million residential decks and 10 million commercial decks that are over 20 years old— a long time for a wooden structure to be exposed to the elements.
Experts say that even if a deck was built to code, it is not safe unless it is adequately maintained. Don’t expect government-employed building inspectors to check out a deck. Most building inspection departments take the position they aren’t required to in North Carolina.
Fortunately, it’s not difficult to conduct a yearly inspection, if you are competent to do so. Unless you are trained to conduct these inspections, you should hire a contractor, home inspector or engineer to inspect your decks, porches, railing, and steps. For a small charge, these experts will evaluate the nails and other fasteners to ensure they are still in a safe condition. Many other items will be evaluated, including the banisters and railings. If repairs are needed, the costs are usually minimal, because new fasteners and the like are quite inexpensive. Again, have these inspections performed at least once a year.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a deck or porch collapse, you’re likely to be facing mounting medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages from missed work. The Wilmington personal injury attorneys at Rhine Law Firm, P.C. can help you get compensation for your losses from the negligent party that should have made sure the structure was safe.